If your goal in Minecraft is to build a nice wooden house and wile away the days with a little farm and maybe a few animals, you need never venture below ground at all. But then again, where would be the fun in that? Unfortunately, most of the fun to be had in Minecraft will require you to go mining, and the dark and dingy caverns under–blocky–foot are not for the unprepared. Here we will discuss some Minecraft strategies to consider when going in search of those precious materials.
Mining strategies in Minecraft have gotten into really hardcore territory over the years; some have even taken it to the realm of mathematics and deep meta analysis. If you’re familiar with basic mining strategies and are looking to take things further, this guide should be a good place to start learning more about mining as optimally as possible.
Kitting yourself out can be a bit of a catch-22. You want the best gear to go delving into the murky subterranean world of Minecraft. Alas, the best gear needs the best materials, which are found underground.
You should be able to gather yourself enough iron ore to craft a nice set of iron armour and tools without digging too deep. At the very least you should have an iron sword and leather armour before following any caves too deeply. If you plan on exploring underground you should upgrade to gold or diamond armour and tools as soon as possible (admittedly easier said than done).
Getting Down There
In Minecraft, sea level is around Y 62 (62 blocks up from zero), and you will generally start somewhere near that level. Unfortunately, you have to get down to around 20 and below for most of the good stuff. There are various ways to achieve this.
One such way is to find a large cave system and follow it as deep you can. Caves will very rarely get you diamond–deep, but you might be surprised how far they can take you. Taking the cave route has the advantage of saving the condition of your tools, not to mention all the loot and ore you will likely find on your way.
If you’d rather just get down there without all those pesky mobs, you might want to think about a stair mine. As the name suggests, stair mines involve digging diagonally downwards and leaving a staircase in your wake. This has the advantage of providing you with a clear and easy path back to the surface. Remember, though, you can still dig your way into a cave, so be prepared to fight.
If you’re a little more impatient you might consider a vertical mine. Simply put, you stand on a block, look down, and start digging. With an iron shovel and pickaxe to hand, you’ll find yourself hitting the lower levels in no time. Be careful though; if you dig your way into a large cavern you’re going to take some fall damage.
You can dig a wide hole and place steps or ladders or you go, or you can dig a one block hole all the way. Just remember; you’ll have to dig your way back up. You could also try a quarry mine which is essentially a much larger vertical mine. TNT is handy for this.
Another option is to work in a series of rows, leaving a single row of blocks in between. This will allow you to cover plenty of ground without risking missing out on any worthwhile materials. It’s a little more time consuming, but it’s the most thorough way of finding everything that’s down there.
While digging, always be on the lookout for lava, and have something disposable, such as sand or dirt, in your hot bar to quickly plug holes. Keep your ears open for mobs nearby, and always, always, carry food with you. Happy mining!
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Stuart Mattox works with Apex Minecraft Hosting, a leading Minecraft sever host in the USA. When not playing Minecraft he enjoys an old fashioned JRPG (particularly the Suikoden series) and daydreaming about Shenmue 3.